Africa keen to learn from Indian elections: Zambian poll chief

By Manish Chand, IANS
Friday, November 12, 2010

NEW DELHI - African countries are increasingly looking at India as a model democracy and an example to emulate, says Zambia’s poll panel chief, Justice Florence N.M. Mumba, who is here to study electoral practices.

“We have come here to look at the electoral system in India and how the democratic system functions in India. India is the world’s largest democracy,” Mumba told IANS in an interview.

She is the chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Zambia, a landlocked country of around 12 million people in southern Africa.

“You manage your elections well. The EVMs (electronic voting machines) have been extremely successful in ensuring free elections. We can exchange our experiences and collaborate in training electoral personnel,” she said.

Mumba shared Zambia’s experience of holding elections and sought India’s expertise in training of poll personnel when she met India’s Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi.

Zambia boasts of the world’s largest reserves of copper and is home to the spectacular Victoria Falls. It will hold presidential elections next year. India is the largest investor in Zambia, with Vedanta Resources having invested $1.5 billion in the Konkola Copper Mines (KCM).

Mumba is accompanied by Commissioner Minerva K. Tembo on her 10-day visit to India that includes stops in Delhi and Mumbai. They have been invited by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), the cultural arm of India’s external affairs ministry.

Mumba also met Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur to discuss the broader canvas of India-Zambia relations.

Mumba is upbeat about the prospects of democracy in Africa, but chooses to be a realist, saying the process is going to be an incremental one. “It’s a slow progress. We are getting there. More countries are having regular multi-party elections,” she said.

Mumba’s visit to India comes at a time when more African countries are moving in the direction of democracy. About two-thirds of African countries have held multi-party elections and more than 30 countries have accepted the African Peer Review Mechanism, that judges ruling dispensations by standards of transparency and accountability.

(Manish Chand can be contacted at

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